‘Big Red One’ Takes on Iraq Military Advisor Training Mission
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2006 An entire Army combat division has been given the mission of training U.S. military advisors for duty within Iraqi army and police units, a senior U.S. military officer in Baghdad said yesterday.
The U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., is now responsible for training U.S. advisors for service in Iraq, Army Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the Iraq Advisory Group, told reporters at a news conference in the Iraqi capital city.
The change represents “a huge investment,” Pittard said, noting two brigade combat teams based at Riley also are committed to training advisors.
Pittard said he works in tandem with Army Brig. Gen. Terry Wolff, commander of the Coalition Military Assistance and Training Team. Pittard and Wolff, who also attended the press briefing, have oversight over military advisors that support the Iraqi army, the national police, as well as the Department of Border Enforcement.
“We really cover two different areas, but have very, very similar goals, and that is to support the Iraqi security forces,” Pittard said.
Wolff said his organization’s some-460 advisors principally help train the Iraqi army and navy and also assist these forces in building their logistical capabilities. A portion of Wolff’s advisors are assigned at some 21 Iraqi military and police training centers and schools, he said.
A total of about 5,000 U.S. advisors are now assigned to training or mentoring duties with Iraqi army or police units, Pittard said. “We’re excited about where the transition teams have come from and where the transition teams are going,” he said.
A good news story is that some Iraqi security units have already reached high readiness levels, Pittard said. Consequently, embedded U.S. trainers in those units are being reassigned to other duties, he said.
Ongoing training of Iraqi security forces is “conditions-based” and keyed on improving the readiness and professionalism of those forces, Pittard said. A year ago, there were just two trained Iraqi army divisions and a couple of brigades. Today, there are 10 Iraqi army divisions and about 36 brigades, he said.
“They don’t have to be coaxed to fight,” Pittard said. “They will fight. And the (U.S. military training) transition teams are part of that.”